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Schurter and Ferrand-Prevot win mountain bike World Cup in Italy, build momentum for Paris Olympics

VAL DI SOLE, Italy (AP) — Nino Schurter of Switzerland and Pauline Ferrand-Prevot of France won mountain bike World Cup races in Italy on Sunday, making emphatic statements that the veterans are still among the ones to beat at the Paris Olympics in just over a month.

Schurter, a three-time Olympic medalist and the champion in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, spent the first half of the seven-lap race in Val di Sol jockeying for the lead with Alan Hatherly of South Africa. But with a surge over a very familiar course in Trentino, the 38-year-old took the lead and held off Hatherly the rest of the way for his 36th career World Cup win.

The victory came on the heels of a second-place finish to reigning Olympic champion Tom Pidcock in the Czech Republic. Pidcock did not compete Sunday as he turns his attention to Tour de France prep, though the British multidiscipline star plans to be back on the mountain bike for the World Cup race in the Swiss Alps less than a week before the Tour begins.

Mathis Azzaro of France won a sprint with Luca Braidot and Filippo Colombo to win the bronze medal Sunday.

Christopher Blevins, who was named to the U.S. team for the Paris Games earlier in the week, finished 26th in the elite World Cup race. His newly minted Olympic teammate, Riley Amos, won the under-23 race earlier in the weekend.

In the women's race, Ferrand-Prevot broke away from the field on the second lap along with Puck Pieterse and Loana Lecomte, the French national champion. But Lecomte couldn't hold the pace, and Pieterse soon struggled with the steep climbs.

Ferrand-Prevot finished 50 seconds ahead of Pieterse to make it back-to-back World Cup wins. Candice Lill overcame Lecomte near the finish to snag third place for the best result of her career.

Ferrand-Prevot has been targeting her home Olympics ever since the Tokyo Games, when she was among the favorites to win the mountain bike race but wound up finishing 10th. The four-time cross-country world champion has had disappointing ends to her other Olympic trips, too, finishing 25th at the 2012 London Games and failing to finish four years later in Rio.

Savilia Blunk finished fifth for the U.S. on Sunday in a solid tuneup for her Olympic debut. Haley Batten was eighth.

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AP Summer Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2024-paris-olympic-games